Multi-million pound homes plan for fire-ravaged Wolverhampton school back on the table after council's embarrassing defeat
A fresh attempt to get the go-ahead for a multi-million pound housing estate on the site of a former school is to be launched.
Wolverhampton council wants to build more than 250 homes on land previously occupied by Wednesfield High School, which was burned down by arsonists in 2014.
Despite having been advised to approve the scheme last year, the authority’s cross-party planning committee threw it out by six votes to four, citing ‘serious flaws’.
Now the homes plan is being resubmitted – with another recommendation to give it the green light. Planners insist the problems raised at the meeting in November have been explored and addressed.
Members vetoed the council scheme, submitted through the authority’s own WV Living developments arm, over concerns that the area would be overdeveloped.
The new proposal retains its original plan for 210 houses and 56 apartments ‘with associated landscaping, highway amendments, parking and ancillary buildings’. 70 of the properties are earmarked as council homes.
Addressing fears raised by the committee about pressure on schools and GP surgeries, head of planning Stephen Alexander said school place availability in the Wednesfield area was constrained.
His report reveals that the education department has applied to keep the site of the former Wednesfield Village School as a contingency location for primary school needs, instead of disposing of it for more housing.
He said there are also primary schools in the area that could be expanded but warned that this was not the case for secondary school places.
The expansion of Coppice Performing Arts School and Wednesfield High School would not be possible at the moment because Government policy only allows for the expansion of good or outstanding Ofsted-rated schools.
“At present neither of the two schools meet this requirement, however it should be noted that both schools are on a journey of improvement and may be able to be considered for expansion in future years,” said the report.
Next Tuesday’s planning committee will also be told that although there was no policy requirement to take account of local health facilities, including doctors’ surgeries, the Clinical Commissioning Group(CCG) has confirmed that the expansion of the Alfred Squire Road surgery will bring in additional GP support.
“The CCG is aware of the proposed redevelopment of this site for new housing and the proposed surgery expansion plans are to help provide for this,” said Mr Alexander.
“The GP practice are confident they can cope with that expansion with the extra space to be developed.”
Planning permission for the surgery expansion was granted on November 25, 2016, and construction is likely to start next month, to be completed in spring. The extension will include two more consulting rooms.